I hardly whispered as I prayed those words. Pain had just leveled another attack, and my soul was laid bare, helpless, bleeding.

“Why?” I wondered. “Why should the nice guys, like Paul or Job or me, hurt?” But the answer was never heard. As I groaned, I hoped the Spirit could convey my grief to the Father, for my thoughts were too scrambled, my vocabulary too limited to verbalize the hurt.

Pain, paradoxically, is both fair and unfair. The weapons of its arsenal — separation, physical malady, death, loss, rejection, defeat, loneliness — assault all lives with reckless abandon. Pain neither chooses nor avoids us; it rains on the just and the unjust. And it reveres nothing — not age, not education, not experience, not bankroll, not spiritual esteem, not even recent encounters.

Regardless of when or how or why pain attacks, the hurt, grief, humiliation and confusion which follow remind us we are not as immortal as we would like to think ourselves.

Whether pain ambushes us or slowly penetrates our lives, we are never really prepared for it. And in the hundreds of times we evaluate and reevaluate the sequence of events that led to the battle, we acknowledge missteps, perhaps, but never feel we deserve the awful ache we feel. And we probably do not. Still, deserved or not, we bleed and bleed some more.

With time the bleeding slows to a trickle, a scab forms, and in its place stands the culmination of the healing process, a scar. Not nearly as large as the original wound, the scars have a personal, quiet beauty about them. Their effect is positive, reminding us, “You were down, but never out.” They are memories of former anguish, yet are not themselves painful; medals of battles fought yet endured.

Scars help us keep our lives in perspective. Silently, they remind us of weaker moments, caution us of future conduct, and bring private smiles for our personal victories.

Oh, you will accumulate a few scars in your lifetime, maybe several, because the war with pain is relentless, without even a promise of a Christmas cease-fire.

But for the Christian, pain is a passing and eventually positive experience, “for momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”

So take pain in stride, and let healing take its natural course, developing an outwardly unsightly scar symbolic of inner strength. When pain is our teacher; scars linger to remind us of our lessons.

–David P. Leach, via 20th Century Christian


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